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Elizabethtown Sports Park

Landscape Architecture by Element Design

City planners in Elizabethtown, Ky., cultivated a vision for a regional sports facility that grew into a 158-acre complex with 12 baseball/softball fields, 12 soccer fields, extensive lighting and underground infrastructure, parking, pedestrian trails, and more than 20,000 square feet of bioswales that feed more than four acres of detention/filtration basins. The baseball pavilion entrance includes baseball-themed plaza pavers (foreground). Tables, chairs, signage and shade structures surround the site's three baseball quads and concessions buildings (background).

The Elizabethtown Sports Park began with the city of Elizabethtown, Ky., and the Elizabethtown Tourism and Convention Bureau's vision to create a regional tournament-quality sports facility that would provide an amenity for the community and bring sports tourism to the area. Mayor David Willmoth, Jr., and Tourism Director Sherry Murphy worked with community leaders to research similar facilities, pass a local hotel and restaurant tax to partially fund the park, and hire a consultant to dream big and take advantage of one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism industry.

Element Design (formerly M2D Design Group) of Lexington, Ky., was hired to work on the master plan for what began as a much smaller facility. As the first plan generated local excitement and the bonding capacity from the local tax grew, so did the vision for the park. The city eventually acquired additional land adjacent to the original site, expanding the future facility to 158 acres. Element Design assembled a team of park and sports field experts to reimagine the design and provide construction documents to build the park.


The Sports Park's entrance drive includes 'Universe'-model lighting (Architectural Area Lighting) with 150w metal halide bulbs, entry walls and columns, ornamental entrance gates (Ameristar) and park logo signage. The drive leads to five separate parking lots with nearly 1,000 parking spaces to accommodate large groups and tournaments.

Design Challenges
The site came with no shortage of physical planning and design issues. Properly siting and sizing the expansive number of fields and infrastructure necessary to make the park appealing for large tournaments across the 158-acre site was a daunting proposition. The north half of the site, which would become soccer/multi-sport fields, was partially located within a 100-year floodplain and included an emergent wetland that could not be developed. The south half of the site, which became baseball/softball fields, had considerable topography challenges that needed to be balanced to accommodate all 12 baseball fields. The north and south halves of the park are bisected by a creek that, like the existing wetland, had to be crossed with new vehicular/pedestrian bridges. As the site was largely undeveloped, the additional impervious surfaces resulted in significant stormwater runoff that also needed to be managed on site.


An aerial view of the completed park, with the "Red" baseball complex in the foreground, emphasizes the scope of the 158-acre facility. More than 600,000 cubic yards of earth were moved during construction to prepare and grade the site. The park loop road, central parking lot and planted filtration areas are also visible.

Element worked closely with Dalhoff-Thomas Design Studio of Memphis, Tenn., and the client to develop a new master plan that incorporated the optimum number of fields; their sizes, locations, and orientations; and support facilities and infrastructure critical to the success of the complex. From the beginning, the client had a vision of a park of singular quality - a sports complex with great fields and equally great amenities that would set it apart and compel people to return to Elizabethtown year after year. After the completion of the new master plan, Jenkins-Essex Construction was hired as the construction manager and worked closely with the design team and client to establish a construction sequence, schedule, and project cost estimates. The project was ultimately bid over six phases, allowing for an early start on site clearing and earthwork and keeping construction moving to meet the client's schedule. Element Design oversaw the production and coordination of all construction drawings and specifications for each of the bid phases. The design team worked with the construction manager to oversee work in the field during the two years of construction for the project. The Elizabethtown Sports Park opened in July 2012.


Shade at the "Red" quad (Shade Systems) covers stadium seating at one of the park's championship baseball fields, with a concessions building in the background. The baseball field's features include backstop padding, netting, and stadium seating.

The final design for the park includes a baseball/softball complex, soccer complex, championship complex, Miracle Field complex, park headquarters and maintenance complex. Within these complexes are 12 baseball fields, 10 natural turf soccer/multi-sport fields, two full-size synthetic turf fields, and a Miracle Field designed to accommodate players of all ability levels. There are also a total of 12 separate multi-functional park buildings, including seven concessions facilities, nine restroom facilities, three large pavilions, and headquarters and maintenance buildings.

The synthetic championship fields include grandstands and a press box. There is an interior park loop road, five separate parking lots accommodating nearly 1,000 parking spaces, a 5K trail and more than 50,000 square feet of walkway and plaza space that connect pedestrians to all parts of the park. The park also includes multiple power pedestals throughout, and Wi-Fi to maximize flexibility for tournaments and visitors.


The central plaza connects to the ADA-accessible "Miracle Field" complex near one of the biofiltration basins. More than 26,000 square feet of permeable pavers were installed on site, along with native grasses, specialty site lighting and benches.

Quality & Amenities
In addition to providing the right number and type of facilities, the design team established high standards for quality in detail. The sports fields feature top-of-the-line lighting, irrigation and sub-drainage systems, as well as high quality fencing, netting, infield and warning track materials. The design team worked closely with James Bergdoll, the park's new turf manager, to select turf types for the natural turf baseball (Tall Fescue) and soccer fields (Bermuda). The synthetic turf was specified at a collegiate quality level.

Buildings for the park used durable, high quality materials to marry a classic sports vernacular to the existing natural appeal of the site. While several types of buildings were required, they all carried the same architectural language and detail to bring a unified and consistent look to the park. Pedestrian pavements and plaza spaces were designed with special details, including sports themed paver inlays, articulated concrete and seat walls that picked up on the architecture of the park buildings. Parking lots featured large interior islands to provide shade and visual appeal.


Fields at the softball quad include vinyl coated chain link fencing, sports lighting, foul poles and a scoreboard, and share a concessions building at the center of the plaza. The complex has seven separate concessions buildings and nine restroom facilities in total.

Landscape was incorporated into the park to define entrances and key focal points, and to provide an additional level of detail and relief from the large areas of pavement required to accommodate large groups. Native and naturalized plants were selected for durability, and to ensure irrigation was not needed anywhere but on the playing fields.

Site amenities selected to set the Elizabethtown Sports Park apart include stadium seating at the championship baseball fields, playgrounds with misters at all baseball quads and the soccer fields, shade structures at all baseball fields, high quality benches, receptacles and tables and chairs, and an extensive park signage package that included park entry signs, wayfinding, field and building markers and interpretive signs.


The soccer pavilion includes a small playground with 12 Bermuda grass soccer fields. Seventy-six separate sports light poles and fixtures were installed as part of a sports lighting package (Musco) that totaled more than $3 million.

The city of Elizabethtown also had a keen interest in stormwater management techniques as a design and educational feature of the park. More than 26,000 square feet of permeable pavers were used in the parking lots, and the two largest lots included more than 20,000 square feet of interior bio-filtration islands.

Four detention/bio-filtration basins were constructed to manage and treat stormwater runoff; these basins hold water much of the year and provide an aesthetic element that links the park to its surroundings. Interpretive signage was also included to describe the park's approach to stormwater management to visitors.


The park also contains two synthetic turf fields with grandstands and sports lighting for night use. More than 20 miles of underground utility infrastructure was installed to make the complex function.

The attention to design and detail of the fields and amenities has helped make the Elizabethtown Sports Park a tremendous success for the community. In its first year alone, local hotels, restaurants and retail venues reported nearly ten million dollars of economic impact, far exceeding the wildest dreams for the first half season.

Design Team
Landscape Architecture/Civil Engineering/Planning Consultant
Element Design (formerly M2D Design Group)
Ramona Fry, RLA, ASLA, LEED BD+C, Project Manager
Mark Arnold, RLA, Principal in Charge
Clint Abbott, PE, Civil Engineer
Architecture Consultant
5253 Design Group; Chris Cottongim, AIA
Mechanical/Electrical Engineering
KTA Engineers; Cory Sharrard, PE
Park Signage
Beeghly Design; Mike Beeghly
Irrigation Design
Wolf Creek Company; Debbie Anderson
Sports Field Consultant
Dalhoff Thomas Design Studio; Dean Thomas, RLA
Sports Turf Specialist
Hargarten Sports Turf Consulting; Phil Hargarten


The Miracle Field includes a collegiate-quality rubberized playing surface (The Motz Group), dugouts, backstop pads, netting, bleacher seating and shade structures.

Construction Team
Construction Manager
Jenkins-Essex Construction
Danna Monroe, Project Manager
Ball Field Fencing
Professional Fence
Ball Field Lighting
All Purpose Erectors
Baseball/Softball Field Construction
Mid-America Golf and Landscape
Buildings/General Construction
Charles DeWeese Construction
Mass Earthwork and Utilities
Jeff Robards Construction
Miracle Field and Playgrounds
Natural Turf Soccer Fields
Alliza Sports Turf
Park Signage
Architectural Graphics, Inc.
Permeable Pavers
Decorative Paving
Plaza Pavers
Synthetic Turf Fields
The Motz Group


Permeable pavers in one of the baseball parking lots control runoff on site and mitigate maintenance needs. Additional pathways include two vehicular/pedestrian bridges and a 5k trail. Lighting and a landscaped island fill out the space beyond the parking area and extend the design theme of the complex.

Bleachers: Dant Clayton Corporation
Irrigation System: Rainbird
Permeable Pavers: Ecoflo by Reading Rock
Plaza Pavers: Pavestone
Scoreboards: Electo-Mech
Shade Structures: Shade Systems
Sports Lighting: System Green by Musco


Another bio-filtration basin was added behind the 'blue' basball complex, with native, wetland-loving bald cypress trees at the periphery and volunteer species growing along the edges of the pond. More than four acres of detention/filtration basins were installed on site.

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October 15, 2019, 10:24 pm PDT

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